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Innovations in Winery Packaging: The Clevertech Advantage

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Purchasing packaging equipment is a decision that will impact a winery’s operations for the next 10 to 20 years — the life expectancy of most packaging machinery. In the 1990s, empty bottles arrived at wineries in cases for manual unloading and placement on the filling line. Converting to bulk bottles and depalletizing machinery increased automation levels and reduced costs throughout the industry.

Beth Zarnick‑Duffy​​​​
Area Sales Manager / Clevertech North America, Inc.

“A big reason wineries changed from manual to automated depalletizing of bottles was to increase production efficiency while improving worker safety and reducing labor costs,” explains Beth Zarnick-Duffy, who worked on many of these conversions. “Wineries continued to automate because finding and retaining qualified workers became even more difficult in the past few years. Companies also began factoring COVID-19’s negative impacts on the workplace into their decisions about when to increase the level of automation for their filling and packaging lines.”

During her 30-year career, Zarnick-Duffy also watched wine consumption rise, which increased the need for more highly automated capital equipment. As consumption grew, more wineries reached a production capacity level that justified the CapEx to move from manual labor to automated machinery.

Zarnick-Duffy recently joined Clevertech North America as a sales manager. This family-owned business offers a range of machines that includes palletizers, depalletizers, case erectors, packers and sealers, strapping systems, stretch wrapping machines and pallet labeling systems for the consumer packaged goods industry.

“We gladly work with customers to engineer and produce equipment customized to meet their application requirements, layout constraints, technical specs and future expectations”

“I realized that Clevertech’s equipment was well suited for the wine industry,” says Zarnick-Duffy, “ and I believe many wineries will choose to work with Clevertech because it designs equipment that is as future-proof as possible.”

Fortune 500 companies around the world have trusted Clevertech equipment and support teams to efficiently and reliably package their products for over 25 years. In the past few years, it has expanded that success to US wine producers on both coasts, and Zarnick-Duffy is confident that its leading-edge technology will lead to more wine industry projects.

Differentiating features and benefits

Transferable skills: All Clevertech equipment have human-machine interfaces (HMI), electrical cabinets and parts in common. When a customer trains plant personnel on one machine and then purchases a different one, such as a carton erector, packer and palletizer, for a new or existing line, this commonality lets the operators use the shared system management language to control any machine and restore systems during malfunctions without additional training.

Better decision-making: Clevertech designs its equipment with Industry 4.0 capabilities that allow them to integrate production operations data with data from the plant’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Warehouse Control System (WCS) and Warehouse Execution System (WES). The combined database delivers visibility, insights and predictive analytics that increase machinery value, improve maintenance, maximize efficiency and minimize downtime.

Packaging Machinery Language (PackML): Clevertech machines rely on PackML to collect data from different lines, shifts, plants and business units, as well as other suppliers’ machinery that use the same language. The standard look and feel reduces learning curves, simplifies integration into business systems with Open Platform Communications (OPC), enhances productivity through initiatives such as Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) analysis and simplifies Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) functions.

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM): Clevertech has incorporated TPM into its machine designs since 2012. This proactive and preventative maintenance minimizes disruptions, defects and accidents while maximizing efficiency. Machines have modular belts instead of chains, which reduces the time between repairs or replacements. See-through Lexan covers give plant personnel the ability to quickly and easily see and assess problems, and parts are fully accessible for easy maintenance and easy operability. The result is a boost in product quality, reduced downtime and longer equipment lifespans.

Designed for innovation 

Clevertech’s unique modular approach to machine design enables it to provide out-of-the-box solutions. It offers complete simulations of proposed packaging lines and 3-D renderings so customers can visualize machines and identify potential bottlenecks while defining the project scope.

“We gladly work with customers to engineer and produce equipment customized to meet their application requirements, layout constraints, technical specs and future expectations,” says Zarnick-Duffy. “Clevertech’s range of beginning and end-of-line equipment is the largest in the market and includes high-level, ground-level, robotic, conventional and hybrid solutions, which allows it to offer the best technical solution.”

Clevertech’s dedication to after-sales service is a critical component in its success with some of the biggest US brands. Its Florida support team uses knowledge gained on the factory floors of packaging plants to help customers, and experienced personnel throughout North America join them to deliver best-in-class support service to customers.

In a final, personal note, Zarnick-Duffy adds that she is excited to once again work with Fausto Savazzi, who joined Clevertech’s Sales Team a few years before her. 

“Fausto was the first person from a packaging machinery supplier I ever met,” she explains. “Since then, we have worked together on and off to serve the wine industry for more than 20 years. We have partnered with many wineries to help improve their level of automation and efficiency. I am confident that we will be doing the same for many more years as Clevertech continues to expand its wine industry business.”

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